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4 members of same family graduate from same CDL program



From left Kodi Sasse, Kendall Sasse, Kenneth Pope, Great Basin College CDL instructor; Katelynn Sasse and Cassandra Sasse. (Courtesy: KENWORTH TRUCK CO.)

ELKO, Nev. — True grit and determination are just a few ways to describe the Sasse family. It’s not every day members of the same family graduate from the same commercial driving license program, let alone four. But Cassandra Sasse and three of her children (Kendall, Katelynn and Kodi) turned to the trucking industry as a way to support their family.

“We’re no strangers to heavy duty trucks since my husband holds a Class A CDL, so my kids and I started looking at the trucking industry for opportunities,” said Cassandra Sasse. “I have seven kids, and four of them still need supervision. It was important for me to find a career that would give me the flexibility I need to watch over my young kids.”

After relocating to Elko, Nevada, the Sasse family discovered that Elko’s thriving commercial transportation industry offered the financial and time flexibility the family sought. On top of that, Cassandra, Kendall, Katelynn and Kodi each applied for and received full scholarships to attend Great Basin College’s six-week CDL program, making the decision to enter the trucking industry even more enticing. They became the first students to receive scholarships for the Great Basin College CDL program.

In January, Cassandra, Kendall and Katelynn Sasse enrolled in the Great Basin College CDL program and graduated with their Class A CDL in March. Kodi Sasse waited to enter the same program in May, so that she would be 21 years old and eligible to drive out-of-state following her graduation in June.

While the Sasse family was in the middle of transitioning into a new way of life in Elko, the Great Basin College CDL program was also going through changes. During the time that members of the Sasse family were enrolled in the CDL program, Great Basin College added a new Kenworth T680 in February.

After first learning how to operate Great Basin College’s previous Class 8 truck in January, Cassandra, Katelynn and Kendall Sasse, were the first students to drive the Kenworth T680. The differences between the T680 and the previous truck they were driving were night and day.

Kenneth Pope, Great Basin College CDL program instructor who has more than 22 years of driving and teaching experience, was a big advocator for the program’s administration to add the Kenworth T680. “In my time on the road, a Kenworth truck was my favorite truck to drive,” Pope said. “Kenworth sets the bar high for the trucks they produce. When the opportunity came about to add a new truck, I told the administration to give Kenworth a hard look. The T680 is a reliable truck that will provide me many years of teaching the next generation of drivers how to operate a Class 8 truck on the best equipment available.”

Great Basin’s Kenworth T680 features a 76-inch high-roof sleeper and 500 hp engine. A 13-speed manual transmission was spec’d so that students would not be limited to operating automated transmission trucks once they graduated.

“We want to ensure that our students have had plenty of practice operating a manual transmission before beginning their careers,” said Pope. “In Elko, our elevation is at more than 5,000 feet and we have mountain passes all around us. I teach my students how to navigate steep slopes, acting as if they are hauling a full payload. It doesn’t matter what the weather conditions are – learning how to drive in tough conditions makes you that much more prepared for professional driving. You can imagine the beating the transmission is taking from students who are just learning.”

The CDL program Great Basin College offers consists of no more than four students at a time. The small class size allows for students to get lots of hands-on driving experience. For long-distance training, Pope will take students out on a 500 to 600-mile route, switching drivers every 125 miles.

Since 1990, 500 students have graduated from the Great Basin College driving school program, and 92 percent of the students who graduate find a job in the industry. With sufficient funding, Great Basin College’s CDL program will hold seven courses this year. Pope expects the Kenworth T680 will accumulate more than 30,000 miles in its first year as the program’s primary truck of use.

“We feel fortunate to be able to offer our students a new truck for them to learn in and develop the skills they need once they graduate from the program,” Pope said.

Since graduating from Great Basin CDL program, Cassandra, Katelynn and Kendall Sasse are driving professionally, hauling heavy equipment locally for mining companies in the Elko area. While the family describes themselves as the “Diesel Family,” Cassandra and her kids originally had no plans of becoming truck drivers, but they have quickly embraced the trucking industry.

“We’re excited about the opportunities we have in the industry,” said Cassandra Sasse. “Our ultimate goal is to own and operate our own trucks and eventually drive long haul.”

For more information on the Great Basin College CDL program, call (775) 753-2202 or go to



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The Nation

CDL Meals offering special promotion for driver appreciation week



CDL Meals are chef developed using wholesome, organic ingredients and offer a flavorful balanced meal that includes protein, carbs, and vegetables. (Courtesy: CDL MEALS)

ANAHEIM, Calif. — CDL Meals, the division of Fresh n’ Lean that focuses on nutritious offerings for truck drivers, is offering a special promotion to help transportation companies celebrate National Driver Appreciation Week.

For National Truck Driver Appreciation Week (NTDAW), fleet operators can purchase discounted meals and receive free Hot Logic heating bags.

There is a minimum purchase of 50 meals required to receive the free bag. Purchases of 100 meals receive two free bags.

Companies can also purchase gift cards for drivers to buy meals at their convenience. Orders are being taken through August 30.

The annual NTDAW, taking place this year September 8-14 commemorates and honors all professional drivers for their hard work and commitment to one of the country’s most demanding jobs.

“We are proud to support drivers across the country with delicious food that encourages better health,” said Bob Perry, director of CDL Meals. “This special promotion gives fleets a chance to support their drivers with something that’s good for them, too.”

The nature of truck driving can also lend itself to a less than healthy lifestyle, which is why CDL Meals focuses solely on this underserved profession.

CDL Meals are chef developed using wholesome, organic ingredients and offer a flavorful balanced meal that includes protein, carbs, and vegetables. The meals are delivered fresh and can be refrigerated for up to seven days. The vacuum sealed trays can be heated quickly and enjoyed any time. Along with the meals, CDL provides a driver wellness education booklet with tips and suggestions to improve your health with easy lifestyle changes. Meals are $10 each for purchases up to 100 meals, with cost savings when purchasing more than 150 meals.

CDL Meals was launched earlier this year and was a beneficial part of the healthful transformation for Danny Jewell, 2018 Owner/Operator of the Year, who lost more than 25 pounds with the meal plan and coaching from Bob Perry, the Trucker Trainer.

With more than 50 years on the road and 6 million miles without an incident, Jewell was recognized for his professionalism and commitment to the industry.






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The Nation

Safety council says motor vehicle deaths in 2019 projected to go below 40,000



The estimate for 2019 caps a three-year period in which roadway deaths topped 40,000 each year for the first time since the mid-2000s. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

ITASCA, Ill. — Preliminary estimates from the National Safety Council indicate the four-year upward trend in motor vehicle deaths that began in 2015 is ebbing with the number of fatalities in the first six months of 2019 dropping 3 percent compared to the same six-month period in 2018.

An estimated 18,580 people died on U.S. roadways between January and June of this year, compared to the council’s revised estimate of 19,060 during the same period last year. An additional 2.1 million people are estimated to have sustained serious crash-related injuries during the first six months of 2018 – a 1 percent drop from 2018 six-month projections.

The estimate caps a three-year period in which roadway deaths topped 40,000 each year for the first time since the mid-2000s.

A total of 118,315 people died on the roadways between 2015 and 2017, and an estimated 40,000 additional people perished last year.

However, drivers still face the same fatality risk this year as they did when fatalities were eclipsing 40,000 annually, because the estimated annual rate of deaths per miles driven has remained stable – NSC estimates 1.2 deaths per every million vehicle miles traveled, unchanged from 2018 rates.

“While the numbers indicate a slight improvement, the rate of deaths remains stagnant, and 18,580 deaths so far this year is unacceptable,” said Lorraine M. Martin, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. “We cannot accept death as the price of mobility. We urge all drivers to slow down, buckle up, pay attention and drive defensively.”

The council’s early estimates indicate significant progress in some states. In the first half of this year, several states have experienced at least a 10% percent drop in motor vehicle deaths, including Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma and Utah. A sample of states with increases through the first six months include Kentucky (6%), Hawaii (20%), Oregon (6%) and New Mexico (15%).

A complete list of state results is available here.

To help ensure safer roads, NSC urges motorists to:

  • Practice defensive driving. Buckle up, designate a sober driver or arrange alternative transportation, get plenty of sleep to avoid fatigue, and drive attentively, avoiding distractions. Visit for defensive driving tips.
  • Recognize the dangers of drugged driving, including impairment from cannabis and opioids. Visit to understand the impact of the nation’s opioid crisis.
  • Stay engaged in teens’ driving habits. Visit for resources.
  • Learn about your vehicle’s safety systems and how to use them. Visit for information.
  • Fix recalls immediately. Visit to ensure your vehicle does not have an open recall.
  • Ask lawmakers and state leaders to protect travelers on state roadways. The NSC State of Safety report shows which states have the strongest and weakest traffic safety laws.
  • Get involved in the Road to Zero Coalition, a group of more than 900 organizations across the country focused on eliminating roadway deaths by 2050. Visit to join.

The National Safety Council has tracked fatality trends and issued estimates for nearly 100 years. All estimates are subject to slight increases and decreases as the data mature. NSC collects fatality data every month from all 50 states and the District of Columbia and uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics, so that deaths occurring within one year of the crash and on both public and private roadways – such as parking lots and driveways – are included in the estimates.

Supplemental estimate information can be found here.

The NSC defines “serious” injuries as those requiring medical attention.

The National Safety Council uses data from the National Center for Health Statistics – an arm of the CDC – when calculating its estimates, because these data are the most comprehensive and inclusive numbers available.

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The Nation

TTI report: Travel demand growing faster than system’s ability to absorb that demand



COLLEGE STATION, Texas — If more Americans are working, a new report confirms, more of us are also tied up in traffic.

The picture is painted clearly in the 2019 Urban Mobility Report, published by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI).

Along with illustrating the problem, researchers also stress the same straightforward solutions they’ve long advocated: more of everything — roads, transit, squeezing as much efficiency out of the existing system as possible, reducing demand through telework, better balancing demand, and roadway capacity by adjusting work hours, and smarter land use.

“No single approach will ever solve this complex problem,” said Tim Lomax, a report author, and Regents Fellow at TTI. “We know what works. What the country needs is a robust, information-powered conversation at the local, state and national levels about what steps should be taken. We have many strategies; we have to figure out the right solution for each problem and a way to pay for them.”

The United States added 1.9 million jobs from 2016 to 2017 — slower growth than the 2.3 million-plus growth in four of the five previous years, but more than enough to exacerbate the nation’s traffic woes. TTI’s gridlock data extends back to 1982, when Ronald Reagan was in his first term, a postage stamp cost 20 cents, and gas was about $1.25 a gallon. Since that time, the number of jobs in the nation has grown almost nonstop by just over 50 percent to the current total of 153 million.

Furthermore, since 1982:

  • The number of hours per commuter lost to traffic delay has nearly tripled, climbing to 54 hours a year.
  • The annual cost of that delay per commuter has nearly doubled, to $1,010.
  • The nationwide cost of gridlock has grown more than tenfold, to $166 billion a year.
  • The amount of fuel wasted in stalled traffic has more than tripled, to 3.3 billion gallons a year.

“The value of investing in our nation’s transportation infrastructure in a strategic and effective manner cannot be overstated as these added costs impact our national productivity, quality of life, economic efficiency and global competitiveness,” said Marc Williams, deputy executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation, which funded the TTI research. The 2008–2009 recession produced only a brief pause in traffic congestion growth, which bounced back at an even quicker pace than associated job recovery.

The result of today’s urban congestion is that the average freeway traveler has to allow almost twice the expected trip duration to ensure dependable arrival for time-sensitive things like medical appointments, day-care pickup, and airline flights compared to what would be required without congestion. Instead of the 20 minutes needed in light traffic, it’s best to plan a 34-minute trip.

“Those minutes don’t sound like much, but they add up quickly over a year,” says David Schrank, a TTI senior research scientist, and report author. “Eventually, we’re talking billions of wasted hours, and the cost of delay at that scale is just enormous.” Simply put, travel demand is growing faster than the system’s ability to absorb that demand. Once considered a problem exclusive to big cities, roadway gridlock now afflicts urban areas of all sizes and consumes far more of each day, making “rush hour” a long-outdated reference.

“The problem affects not only commuters, but also manufacturers and shippers whose travel delay costs are passed on to consumers,” said Bill Eisele, a report author, and TTI senior research engineer. “While trucks constitute only 7 percent of road traffic, they account for 12 percent of congestion cost.”

Researchers emphasize that it’s urgent for the nation to develop consensus on specific strategies for each urban travel corridor now, since major projects, programs, and funding strategies take a decade or more to develop and bear fruit.

Almost every strategy works somewhere and in some situations, they say, and almost every strategy is the wrong idea in certain places at certain times. Using a balanced and diversified approach that focuses on more of everything — tempered by realistic expectations — is the best way forward.

The 2019 Urban Mobility Report examines conditions in 494 urban areas across all states and Puerto Rico. The research was supported by INRIX, a leading provider of transportation data and analytics.

For a nationwide interactive map of congestion conditions visit








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